The title of my post is the question I have for you today: Do you believe you’re worthy of healing?
Your first reaction may be, ‘of course, I do.’ Or, you may be asking yourself: What kind of question is that? But how many of us act on it – even if we’re convinced we do deserve healing? Not enough; kids today are still learning the default setting we’re passing along.
Give it some thought, though – really. Do you believe you’re worthy of healing? When you’re on pain island and would give anything to be on pleasure island, what action would you take? What would you sacrifice to get to where you’d rather be than in the depths of pain you may be in right now? What would it take?
It is not uncommon for women especially, to put the oxygen mask on everyone else around us before ourselves.
What happens though, when everyone you’ve sacrificed yourself for to thrive, look at you one day and you’re all tapped out – you’ve got nothing left to give?
The “G” Word
But, what is guilt?
Guilt is an intent to do harm. But, you didn’t intend to do harm did you?
Based on a Canadian study, by the time we are 15-years-old, we’ve heard more than 23,000 messages that are negative about expressing any kind of sad, painful emotions. We’re taught, through this influenced learning, that it’s a negative thing to have feelings in the first place by how adults around us are modeling ways they negatively handle painful emotions.
Once we reach adulthood, we don’t know any better. All of the conditioning we’ve received becomes our default setting. So when life happens, and we experience significant emotional losses, we neither know what to do about nor if healing is even possible. More importantly, we push away our feelings and by doing so, we’re sending ourselves the message that we’re not worthy of healing. Because, whether you’re choosing to stay in the pain or choosing to make a commitment to healing your heart – either way, you’re making a choice.
Where would you rather be – pain or pleasure island?
You are worthy of healing. Always and forevermore.
P.S. If you’re in my area in south-central ND, I have two free talks coming up this coming week about grief and an introduction to The Grief Recovery Method. I hope you can join me! 🙂
Before we dive into what unresolved grief is, it’s first important to understand what grief itself is.
Webster’s Dictionary defines grief as deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement…an unfortunate disaster.
Grief may be best defined by a griever as the feeling of reaching out for someone who always used to be there, only to discover when you need them one more time, they are not there.
What it is…
The Grief Recovery Institute defines grief as the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind. It is also the result of undelivered emotional communication. So, anything uncommunicated (in any relationship) has the potential to cause grief, whether it was the death of a child, spouse, parent, sibling, loss of relationship, divorce, etc…all the things not communicated that you wish would’ve been different, better, or more and all the hopes, dreams, and expectations that will never be realized. This is what becomes unresolved grief.
Grief is a heart problem, not a head problem and in all the ways we’re taught to deal with grief, it’s always been intellectualized. You simply can’t heal the heart with the head. You have to dig deep into the heart – to heal the heart.
So, the next time you catch yourself thinking about a loved one who has died, a relationship in the past that soured, or currently have a challenging relationship in your life with someone you less than love – consider, for just a moment, you may be experiencing unresolved grief.
What do you do about it? Well, that’s up to you. But, I know of a program that can help. I happen to be a facilitator of such a program. <3 Contact for details if you’re in my area or follow the P.S. instructions below. 🙂
P.S.Care to be kept in the loop of upcoming free talks and programs (especially if you’re in my surrounding community)? I encourage you to click the subscribe button below. You’ll be redirected to the sign-up page. You’ll also receive my Unleashed Letter e-news each Wednesday, where I share more grief/life tips, inspiration, and nudges of encouragement.
Every 12.8 seconds someone completes suicide. Every year, more than 600,000 kids experience foster care. And, 1 in 20 children will experience the death of a parent or sibling before age 18 (this may be higher). Add on the statistics for the death of spouse or child, divorce, miscarriage, loss of a pet, all the intangible losses (loss of trust, for example), and all of the more than 40 losses – I’d say grief is a pretty big deal. Agree? Also, the economic cost is over $75 billion annually, too. And moreover, the medical costs associated with grief as well. It’s all staggering! Grief is quite the bully, isn’t it?
Grief costs us all. Aside from the obvious costs, we also lose time; of being able to be present in our lives. Especially in the early days of grief, where the days run together and life around moves on but you feel like you’re stuck in some parallel universe, watching life all around you sail by.
We are robbed of so much when we’re feeling lost in our feelings and resist giving them a voice. The feelings seem to have nowhere to go or we don’t know what to do with them all when they rush in. So to cope, we stuff them down and bury them or turn to things to occupy our time and minds (alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, exercise, workaholism, etc.). Unless we’re blessed to have a heart with ears (listening ear) that doesn’t attempt to fix and hold space for us, then we isolate. And, I think eventually cut ourselves off from others regardless, because we have this notion that others get sick of hearing the story, right? Get on with it! Get over it! It’s been 2 years, you should be over it by now. Even if no one ever speaks these words, you feel them. I know these words well. Thirty years – you’d think I’d be over it by now, too. And there it is – a myth about grief that time heals all wounds. Time does nothing but pass, friends. Time doesn’t heal squat. It’s the action you take within time that makes the difference – nothing else.
You know what grief has cost you. I don’t need to tell you. You feel it and know it well within your heart; you just haven’t articulated it out loud. Because acknowledging out loud what grief has cost you will mean you’re in the position of awareness. You then have a choice to make – ignore it and go on with your buried grief feelings or the hard choice – face those feelings head-on.
Only you know when the time is right for you to move beyond your grief. Just make sure you’re not holding on to what is familiar out of fear.
“…As a seed buried in the earth cannot imagine itself as an orchid or hyacinth, neither can a heart packed with hurt imagine itself loved or at peace. The courage of the seed is that once cracked; it cracks all the way.” – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
P.S. Want to receive weekly inspiration & encouragement straight to your inbox? As well as info on upcoming free talks and info on 1:1/Group Grief Support? Click the Subscribe Banner below, enter your name & email, and you’re all set! xx
So far, my turning 40 birthday month has been amazing and filled with many firsts.
The biggest first is taking a solo flying trip. I got back earlier this week from Austin, TX, where I spent 6 days for a grief recovery certification training of the grief recovery method. I’d love to share a bit about my trip – the highs, the lows (and there were big ones), and everything in between.
First, going from snow and cold temps to – what I thought would be 70’s (with rain expected some days), was the first joy of my trip. Austin, however, pleasantly surprised me with even warmer temps than expected and apparently, unusually sunny, Goldilocks-type days.
My first day there, I met up with a gal that I’ve known since around 2010 or so from a senior photographer FB group. It was sooooo fun meeting her and actually connecting in real life.
The following day, I met a gal who I’ve followed for quite some time and who I consider a mentor – Phoebe Mroczek. I’ve listened to her podcast, The Unbecoming (which I highly recommend, by the way) for the past year, and she is as down-to-earth in person as she is online. We shared goals and aspirations and it was great to connect in real life. Because let’s face it, ND isn’t exactly the epi-center for entrepreneurs. There’s a snowball’s chance in hell of any entrepreneurial event happening that would draw in people from around the country in my neck of the woods! LOL! If that’s the case for you, too – never be afraid to reach out to your online people, when traveling, to meet up! I’m so glad I did!
I enjoyed a wonderful stroll down the river, where I came upon a little stand where they were giving away free pints of ice cream! You’ll see it’s made with cashew milk and I gotta say, despite not loving pecans, this ice cream was sooooooo good! Highly recommend! I was told you can find it at Target and, I think, Wal-Mart as well. Worth checking out, for sure!
To my delight (and truly, I was happy like a child), I made an unexpected friend while on a tour of Austin, where we visited the cemetery where some well-known people are buried – including veteran Chris Kyle. My new friend is originally from Burma (borders Thailand) and living in Kona, HI. She was in Austin for training different from mine but somewhat in the same arena, so we had a topic of interest off the bat. After the tour, she asked me to join her to eat and we ended up talking for over five hours. She shared about Buddhism and about her homeland, as well as her life in HI. We’ve connected since that meeting again and I know I have gained a life-long friend.
The first 2 days of my trip, reminded me of all the great blessings God brings me in the most unexpected ways. But, I was open to receiving, too. And maybe that’s the lesson the first two days taught me: keep your heart open. Love over fear – always.
The next four days of the trip would be some of the most challenging four days of my life. Despite this being a certification training, a part of the training is to experience the process yourself that you will take others through. The method is to complete a loss-relationship in two of the four days. What made this experience even more intense is that the morning of the first day of training, I was awfully sick (puking, nausea, and you know what). I spent the entire day lying on the floor just so I could be present. Fortunately, I had the read the book prior, so hearing it in person, reinforced what I had read.
To begin with, Austin wasn’t the plan either, as I had originally registered for a training a 5-hour drive from me, however, that ended up being canceled. The next nearest training wasn’t until October. Austin just happened to be at the same time and I already had the time off. And, honestly – I just felt in my gut it had to be now and not later.
The Grief Recovery Method, once learned, is a method of healing you can utilize the rest of your life with loss of any kind that feels significant and with relationships of those both deceased and living.
I am beyond excited to be able to bring such a service to my community and surrounding communities. To start, I can only do in-person Grief Recovery work, however, it is a goal of mine to complete additional training down the road, that will enable me to conduct online Grief Recovery (i.e. bring healing) to anyone anywhere!
In the weeks ahead, I will share more about this wonderful program. I can say, with my whole heart, this can be a transforming (i.e. life changing) experience. And, I only say can be because you truly do get out of it what you’re willing to put into it. You have to allow yourself to feel all the hard feelings and be completely honest with yourself because that’s where the healing is.
This program is generally 8 weeks, however, as I mentioned in training, the emotionally challenging work is completed in two days – so it is a very intense experience. There is an advanced training I can take down the road that would allow me to also conduct the 2-day process in a weekend workshop, too. But to start, in the 8-week program, it’s broken down into weekly chunks of information.
My Personal Grief Recovery Method Experience
In my experience, having gone through it, I would say that it’s not that I’ll never feel sad again or grieve what I’ve lost, however, I don’t have this immense attachment to the grief itself anymore. It’s as if we hold on to what is familiar, but I no longer feel weighed down by it. The perfect analogy for me is this: before, I felt like I was treading water in a sea of grief. It was an exhausting vicious cycle, knowing that my life decisions were being dictated by this over-arching feeling of loss. And now, I feel like I’m swimming again. The grief is still there but it’s me moving with the current, not being bogged down by it. Does that make sense? I want others to experience this transformation, too. I felt called to this program the moment I found it – I knew it was it. I could cry in gratitude for this experience. It’s a freedom I’ve never felt. And, I can say never because I’ve been carrying these rocks since I was 8. Moreover, you learn tools on how to be a better listener, how to better communicate, and knowledge of how to complete other/future losses that you will have forever. No one can ever take this experience or knowledge from you.
This program had me feeling like I dropped a backpack of rocks that I’ve been adding to all my life. I feel lighter today than I did before this program and am so grateful I listened to my heart and gut.
If you are in my area and desire healing, stay tuned. If you’re not in my area, I encourage you to seek out a Grief Recovery Specialist in your area via the Institute website. There are programs geared specifically for loss of a pet, one in the works specifically for loss of relationship/divorce, and also one for parents to help children grieve (love this one – it’s prevention at the heart of it). I have plans on offering these, too, as well as providing talks to businesses/organizations that feel their business/organization could benefit. We all could benefit from listening skills, right?
Grief – Impacting Our Economy & Other Areas of Life
Also, there is statistical data on the financial and productivity impact grief has on businesses and organizations and I will be sharing more info on that to come as well. It’s the one thing that unites us all – no one is immune and we all have it and we bring it to our careers, families, and all relationships. And, although you may feel as though you’ve dealt with it, I encourage you to dig deep and ask yourself if failed relationships, bankruptcy, broken family relationships, lack of or loss of friendships, may not be due to any relationship you’ve had that you wished would have been better, different, or more. I guarantee there’s something there you’ve likely buried and locked away. I did and The Grief Recovery Method was my key.
If you’ve made it this far – bless your heart. xx Stay tuned to future blog posts where I will share a bit more of the ins & outs of the program and other healing tidbits. In the meantime, I encourage you to sign up for my weekly newsletter, as upcoming talks and future group info will be shared there first with those most expressing interest in knowing more.
Yours in grief and for choosing love over fear – always. <3
P.S. Are you in my area and interested in being a part of my first pilot, 8-week group pilot program? I’m looking for up to 6 people who are wanting to heal a loss-relationship that they wish could be/could have been better, different, or more and heal that relationship once and for all, but are also willing to commit to their healing for 8 weeks – once weekly for approximately two hours each time. This is not a drop-in-and-out program. Commitment is required – it is the only way you can heal and also be reliable support to others in the group. Sound like you? Reply to this email and let’s chat.
P.P.S.There is also an opportunity for one person to work with me in-person 1:1 weekly for 7 weeks. Although I highly encourage the group dynamic (for various reasons), sometimes, a 1:1 is more fitting. Get in touch and we can discuss if you think you’d prefer in-person 1:1.
P.P.P.S. It is also worth noting that those that take advantage both pilot programs, will benefit from a greatly reduced investment. There is nothing you need and all materials are provided. Why not do this for free? I wish I could, however, aside from my cost and time, it’s likely you wouldn’t do the work without an investment of some kind. There is something about investing in yourself that flips a switch in your mind that you value something more if you invest in it. I know this to be true of myself, too. But I also know, when everything else I’ve tried in my life, including trying to work through it on my own and therapy – nothing worked until this. True story. Investing in this program is the act of choosing love (and healing) for yourself.
In this post, I shared what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. And, in that post, I also share what I’ve learned about forgiveness, as well as what not to do with forgiveness.
In this post, I’d like to share a deep-dive method I’ve learned in navigating forgiveness. Before we move on, however, if you haven’t completed the exercise I mentioned at the end of that post, I’m including the following info again, for your convenience.
Give some thought to both positive and negative events/unhappy memories of a relationship with someone you’ve found it difficult to forgive. This person can be living, deceased, and any relationship you wish would be or could have been different, better, or more in some way. It is, however, best to start with the closest relationship. For example, in my case, it is the relationship with my mother because she raised me.
Next, map these events in chronological order as best you can on a straight-line timeline, starting with your very first memory with that person regardless of it being positive or negative. For some relationships, it could be the first time you met that person. Keep going, writing the positive events above the line and the negative events below the line and ending with the current year. Also, maybe it was a misunderstanding or memorable event – keep those times in your relationship in mind, too, to add to your timeline. Ultimately, it’s the feelings you had when these things occurred that we’re wanting to dig deeper into.
Some examples are a new dress, a punishment, a vacation, abuse, a tender moment that’s stuck with you. Even with an abusive relationship, if there are positive memories (or actions like paying rent), those must be acknowledged as well. Be as honest with this as you possibly can. Every relationship is made up of good and bad and right and wrong; acknowledge both to express the true picture of the relationship.
When I did this exercise, I had to sit back and let it all sink in a bit. When you see all the things you’re holding on to in your heart, it’s eye-opening. You realize how much toxicity exists within your body. Not all events were below the line, however. I also felt more appreciation in other ways, too, for events written above the line.
The next step is to translate the relationship graph into three categories: apologies, forgiveness, or significant emotional statements. Above-the-line events are usually apologies or significant emotional statements. Some negative events may fall into two categories, too, if there is appreciation but also a negative emotion tied to the event.
When it comes to apologies, you may owe an apology for something you did or did not do. You may not have communicated something before the relationship came to an end. Regardless, this is your perception of your actions or inactions.
A Side Note on Apologies
When you feel like a victim, apologizing comes extra hard to do. I can speak for myself when I say that I had developed a lifelong relationship with my pain and acted like a victim for many years. I didn’t realize this was a problem until I experienced a mid-life unraveling (crisis) and looked inward for the first time.
No matter how insignificant it may seem, apologizing for even the slightest transgression is the only way you can complete your pain to move on from it.
Forgiveness: An Inside Job
The next category is forgiveness, which is the acceptance that there will not be a different or better yesterday. It is the action of giving up resentment held against another person. You would also never want to forgive someone face-to-face, as doing so will likely be met with defensiveness. Always keep in mind: forgiveness is an inside job.I have been a witness to this and it’s just not pretty. Don’t add insult to injury – this is inner work for you and you alone.
Things Left Unsaid
The last category is significant emotional statements. These are neither apologies nor something that calls for forgiveness. We tend to hold on to unsaid things that make a situation feel incomplete for us. A few examples would be: I love you, I hated you, I was ashamed of you, thank you for the sacrifices you made for me, etc.. This category includes all the things left unsaid or things we wish we had said or done (or hadn’t said or done).
Repeat the above for every relationship that’s caused you suffering and you’ll experience many a-ha moments and, my hope, healing as well.
I created a little guide to go along with this post. Enter your name and email and you’ll receive an immediate download. You’ll also receive The Unleashed Letters, which hits inboxes every Wednesday.
In times of highly-intense emotional upset, children are often cast aside with their grief. I don’t believe adults mean to do this, it’s just in that highly emotional state, they can barely navigate their own feelings, much less the feelings of a child. And, the child could exhibit behavior or communicate that they are handling things well – or, better than expected.
This type of assumption could not be farther from the truth. Children do not have the mental capacity to process such a strong emotion as grief on their own. They need to be led by example and need to be allowed to express their sorrow just like an adult is given the reverence to do so.
Communication about grief is, and should be, determined by the child’s age. The older the child is, the more they can talk about their sadness, which significantly helps. Not talking about it, however, teaches a very negative lesson around grief. Also, not holding space for a child to share their experience is sending a message that their feelings aren’t valid – they are not worthy to be heard because they’rejust a kid, and they’ll bounce right back because kids are resilient. Right? Wrong.
Speaking from experience, when I was eight, and my father died, I was cast aside with my grief. In hindsight, I felt like I was invisible. Occasionally, someone would come along and pat me on the head or shoulder. However, in the late ’80s (and truthfully, even today), adults are not equipped to navigate their own grief, much less the emotional pain of a child.
Adults just don’t know what to do or say to or for a grieving child. This indifference to a child’s grief sorely impacts that child their entire life. How can it not? Think about your own unresolved grief you experienced as an adult has affected your life? It’s reasonable to assume, then, that children carry the impact of not resolving or communicating their grief as children into adulthood, including all future relationships. This is not to include any subsequent grief that may be experienced down the road that gets stacked on top of the old, unresolved grief in childhood.
Children are the forgotten grievers of society. While adults are wrapped up in their own turmoil of death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a beloved pet, financial ruin, homelessness, etc…there is a child or children experiencing the same life upsets. They, too, are human with all the same needs.
What are we as a society to do to help children who are grieving?
Deal with our grief, so we’re prepared and capable of helping others, including children, whether they are our own or not.
Take the time to learn tools and communication skills around grief when talking to children.
Get schools involved in grief communication and what signs to look for in children who may be dealing with grief-causing situations at home or while at school.
Never assume a grieving child is okay. One grieving child may be acting out negatively, and another may be reserved and not socializing. There is no cookie-cutter response to grief in children (or adults) because humans are not cookie-cutter.
In closing, if you are an adult with children and are experiencing grief, your children likely are as well. I implore you to seek help and outside resources, not only for yourself but also for your child or children. It’s never too late. That said, because grief never goes away, it will always manifest in a person’s life. Learning coping skills and communicating and resolving grief is the only way to feel free of grief’s grip. Not prioritizing healing is choosing to suffer.
Bury your grief, stuff it down, and lock it away all you want – it’s always there below the surface. If you take an inventory of your life and your relationships, however, you will see the consequence of not resolving your grief has affected your life – and of those closest to you that are in it.
P.S. Have you experienced grief during childhood? If you’re open to sharing your story and experience (especially if it’s similar but doesn’t have to be), I’d love to share in your experience, too. It’s not easy to find other life-long grievers open to sharing their story and I get that. Know, though, I’ve been there, too. Leave a comment below, if you’re comfortable, if not reach out via email at victoria [at] theunleashedheart [dot] com with “Childhood Grief” in the subject line or DM me on Instagram @theunleashedheart. I look forward to hearing your story. xx